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History

When Europeans began to colonize North America, commercial fishing became a major industry. At that time, America enjoyed a great abundance of fish and other marine life. The continent's lakes and streams teemed with trout and perch. The Gulf of Mexico offered up shrimp and oysters. In Pacific waters swam tuna and salmon, and the Atlantic Ocean shore was crowded with lobster and crab. Fleets of fishing boats and mammoth whaling ships headed out to sea, returning with huge catches. For many communities, fishing was the dominant way of life. Grueling and dangerous, but also rugged and exciting, fishing held and still holds charm and excitement for those who want to work under the open sky.

Time has drastically changed the fishing industry. Pollution has made many waters unfishable. Overfishing has caused many fish populations to crash. According to the United Nations, 32 percent of global fish stocks are depleted or overexploited, and 90 percent of large species like marlin have been fished out in the past century. As a result, increasing government regulation keeps fishers from catching as they did in the past. In addition, technological advances have changed how people look for, catch, and process fish. The family fishing boat has given way to the corporate fishing fleet. But some of the old romance about fishing lingers, and the occupation still attracts a steady stream of workers.